Internet Filter Hardware

The Internet can be dangerous, but Internet content filtering can help to make the online world a safe, appropriate place for children and adults alike, blocking access to websites of questionable nature and ensuring that young eyes are not exposed to images and words that could be damaging. Families, schools, churches, and small businesses can all benefit from Internet filter hardware, servers that provide 24 hour protection from websites containing pornography, violence, racism and other offensive content. Kids can search the web safely, learning new facts, communicating with friends, and enjoying all that the online world has to offer and parents can rest assured that their precious charges are protected from images of sex and violence. Business owners and managers can install filtering devices on network computers to ensure that their employees are doing work rather than using Instant Messenger or browsing social websites. This kind of hardware can get the right results from online technology and eliminate the wrong ones.

Generally, Internet content filtering works in two different ways, both of which aim to bar access to inappropriate content. The first method is to compare site requests from a local computer to URLs that are known to be unacceptable; the second is to scan incoming data and to block certain keywords or other media. Most programs use both of these technologies--certain websites are blacklisted, while other unsuitable pages are caught by way of scanning. Many products allow users to customize their filter preferences by choosing which type of sites are unacceptable and by adding sites to the blacklist. This way, parents or business owners can prevent children or employees from looking at websites that are inappropriate, such as pornography, while enabling them to view pages that contain information they may need, such as scientific information about human reproduction.

Customization is one of the best aspects of the newer Internet filter hardware because master users can alter the filtering sensitivity for each computer user in their family or organization, allowing a higher level for young children without limiting the freedom of teenagers or adults. For example, a parent might choose to only allow a nine year old to view kid-friendly websites while allowing a teen full online access, minus sexual or violent content. Most filters list all the types of websites that may be blocked, allowing users to choose which ones to prohibit and which to leave open. Common categories for blocking may include abortion, drugs, gambling, illegal activities, tobacco, alcohol, personals and dating, religion, weapons, etc., and parents can choose to block other categories that they are concerned about. Users may also be able to block pop-ups, e-mail, chat, and Instant Messaging if these seem to be problematic for children or employees.

Parents should keep in mind that Internet content filtering is not 100% effective, and some improper web pages may be accessed either by accident or by smart kids who know how to get around a filter. While these products may be helpful and save parents a great deal of worry and hassle, there is simply no alternative to caring, attentive parenting; Internet filter hardware is not an online babysitter. Most people have heard the proverb, "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6), but how often does this training amount to more than a list of rules or banned websites? The truth is that it is more effective to teach a child by one's words and actions to respect and honor women than to block online porn or to show him how to resolve conflicts peacefully than to turn off violent TV. Having honest, open, respectful communication with a child is more important than any website blocking hardware can ever be.

That said, Internet content filtering is still a useful tool for vigilant parents who want to keep their families safe from unseemly online content. The good news is that it is also affordable, often even offered for free. Interested persons should research the different available options in order to get a better understanding of how these products work and what they are capable of doing. Everyone's filtering needs are different; therefore, a wide array of products exists, each with varying features, strengths, and prices. Users can pay a one-time fee of $100, a monthly subscription of $50, or even a low $5 per month; free filters can be very effective, but may not provide all the features of a pricier option.

There are some drawbacks to using Internet filter hardware, such as reduced connection speed, which is a result of the product scanning requested websites for improper content. Also, the filter may be overly sensitive, blocking access to appropriate websites needed for work or school research. Most new products, however, eliminate many of these problems, boasting a connection delay less than 1/10 of a second, which is hardly worth worrying about. Plus, as previously mentioned, customization allows users to decide which pages or keywords are censored and to alter filter settings when necessary; if the online protection at any time becomes annoying or users need to make changes as children mature, most products make it easy for users to reset filter sensitivity and prohibitions. The benefits of Internet content filtering certainly outweigh any potential problems--the comforting knowledge that one's family is protected from exposure to pornography, hate crimes, and profane language is certainly worth the time it takes to work out a few quirks in the system.

Parental Internet Filters

Child Internet filters were never heard of fifteen years ago when predators roamed the nation's city parks, bus stations and highways looking for easy prey. But now in today's America, sick and depraved people will travel hundreds of miles to meet a child or a teen in person that they met online and the outcome or at least the desired outcome the predator wants is too terrible to contemplate. Consider that one in five children on a chat room has been approached by a child predator, and that nine of ten children have accidentally come across a sexually explicit website while doing their homework. Parental Internet filters ought to be a very high priority for any family wishing to limit the corrupted influence many ideas and people want to have on the country's most precious commodity. There are a number of services available.

Most parental Internet filters offer some very similar kinds of services. To begin, most services offer a customized account for each member of the family. A one size fits all approach is not realistic for any family that wants to honor the advancement of maturity, wisdom, experience, education and spiritual maturity. Many child Internet filters offer program controls to control or limit instant messaging and the time that a child spends online, along with what time of day a child may be online. These services can also provide a log of which websites were visited and send instant alerts to the parent's office or other workplace through txt messages, phone call or email if someone at home visits an inappropriate site. For those parents who want to provide a child with some measured freedom tempered with large doses of guidance, the log of recent Net activity can provide opportunities for parents to sit down and discuss the appropriateness (or not) of trips taken to certain websites. The best filtering services will also alert parents to names, phone numbers, addresses or school names that have been posted on social networking sites.

The providers of child Internet filters often can offer parents dozens of subject headings that can be addressed and blocked. A few include any type of sexual content websites, anything with weapons, violence, or related subjects, swimsuit and lingerie sites, anything having to do with lifestyle choices, email blocking, instant messaging monitoring, anything having to do with the human body, explicit or adult language, games, gambling and many other options. But not all parental Internet filters must be bought, for a careful look on line can provide dozens of free downloadable programs that can at least help in the fight against images and ideas that responsible parents want to protect their children against. Many of these free downloads are installed by public libraries across the country, and while they may not provide customizable options for parents, the protection is a hedge against intrusion by unwanted influences.

A natural temptation for a parent is just to keep children off the Net altogether, but that is a denial of the Web's rich and undeniable source of information at one's fingertips. Virtually of the world is at the beck and call of the Net user and is becoming an absolute necessity to do business, study at schools and universities, and order pizza. Okay, the last one was a real stretch. So though parents can be afraid of their child falling, most give bicycles at early ages and come alongside until the children know how to ride safely and alone. In the mean time training wheels or an ever present parental strong arm is provided. The same philosophy can be taken about the use of the Net by our children, and part of the aid parents can give is through the use of child Internet filters.

If parents want a more Christian based approach to Internet use by a child, there are many that can offer a specific approach. Christian Internet filters are more sensitive to the philosophical creep of cultural values that have seeped into American society. For example, gambling can be blocked, or online card games or alcohol and tobacco use or certain health related issues or other sites considered too harmful by the Christian Internet filters and the parameters set up by parents. The ongoing battle for the spiritual control of young hearts and minds can be a very real concern not shared by all good and involved parents, and thus the difference between regular family Internet filters and Christian Internet filters. "And be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may be able to prove what is that good, and acceptable and perfect will of God." (Romans 12:2)

Christian Internet filters can often provide easy-to-find links for children to use in homework assignments such as many homeschooling websites. These filters can offer links, for example to creationist websites to help counter evolutionist teaching at school and offer online textbooks that have a more Christian based approach than many public school text books. Whatever approach a parent takes in regards to Net use with his/her children, parental Internet filters can help bring a modicum of peace of mind. But computers should physically be placed in the middle of high traffic areas of the house so that a parent can actually keep an eye on what is being viewed. Rules about when and for how long the Internet is used must also be enforced. A president wisely said, "Trust but verify."

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